Costco Kirkland Signature 8.0 Hearing Aid Comparison | Hearing Aids - Updated

By: Dr Cliff Olson
September 25, 2018
Video Transcript

The Costco Kirkland Signature 8.0 hearing aid was released in February 2018.  For more information regarding the release of the KS 8.0 check out this post on Hearing Health & Technology Matters: https://hearinghealthmatters.org/blog...

Getting your hands on a pair of Costco Kirkland Signature 8.0 hearing aids is sometimes easier said than done.  At Costcos throughout the greater Phoenix area, the wait list to be seen can be months.  So for the purpose of this video, we are comparing the Signature 8.0 with it's closest counterpart the Signia 7Nx devices.  You can see the specification sheets for both devices here:  Signia - https://www.signia-pro.com/wp-content...  

Kirkland Signature 8.0 - file:///C:/Users/Clifford%20R.%20Olson/Downloads/Kirkland%20Signature%208.0.pdfIn terms of form factor, both devices look nearly identical.  They both use size 312 batteries, have a rocker switch for volume and program adjustment, and both use identical receivers that can be outfit with custom ear molds if necessary.  Let's take a look at the core features:

1. Both have 48 channels

2. Both have 20 adjustment handles for programming

3. Both have access to 6 program slots

4. Both can connect directly to an iPhone for streaming

5. Both can connect to Android without streaming

6. Both have Own Voice Processing, they just call it different things.

This is where things get a little more complicated.  We know the Kirkland Signature 8.0 hearing aid is a defeatured version of the Signia and Rexton devices, but it can be confusing on which features have been limited or removed.For instance, how good is the Noise Management feature?  

Signia devices have Speech & Noise Management with 7 adjustment steps, Sound Smoothing with 3 adjustment steps, and Directional Speech Enhancement with 3 adjustment steps.  In the Kirkland Signature 8.0 devices, it only indicates that Noise Management is available, and that it has Sound Smoothing with 3 adjustment steps.

How about Feedback Cancellation?  Signia's feedback cancellation is really good, but is the level of feedback cancellation in the Kirklands the same?  The spec sheet tells us it is available, but it is impossible to tell if it is the same.  The Kirkland Signature 8.0 Spec sheet doesn't tell us how high the Input dynamic range is in the device.  The Signia Nx devices have an input dynamic range of 113dB.  Why is this important?  Because the higher the input dynamic range the better.  

Ultimately, it helps you hear better in background noise.  It us unknown if the Kirkland Signature 8.0 hearing aids has as high of an IDR.There are a few things that we know have been removed from the Costco Kirkland Signature 8.0 hearing aids and first is the Tinnitus Noise Notch Therapy and tinnitus masking features.  In fact, no hearing aids sold at Costco have tinnitus features.  

So if you have tinnitus, Costco hearing aids probably aren't for you.The second thing that differs is the bandwidth.  Signia Nx devices have a bandwidth out to 12,000 and the Costco Kirkland Signature 8.0 have out to 10,000.  Since speech clarity resides in the high-frequencies, the higher the bandwidth, the better.  Ultimately, Costco Kirkland Signature 8.0 hearing aids are good devices.  They are similar to Signia 7Nx devices but not identical.  

Just remember, it does not matter how good your hearing aids are unless they are fit, programmed, and serviced correctly by your hearing care provider.  This is true at Costco, an independent audiology clinic, or an ENT clinic.  So before buying hearing aids anywhere, make sure you do your homework on the provider at that clinic.How to find a great hearing care provider:  https://youtu.be/F6ci4wSACd0

Dr. Cliff's Thoughts

I am constantly asked if Costco’s Kirkland Signature 8.0 Hearing Aids are any good, considering they only cost $1600. I decided to compare the Kirkland private label brand with their original counterpart, the Signia 7 Nx. Since both of the manufacturers are owned by the same holding group, Sivantos, we should be able to find some similarities.

Full disclosure: I have not been able to get my hands on an actual physical set of Kirkland Signature 8.0 Hearing Aids because the Costcos in my area have an insanely long waiting list, and I wasn’t willing to wait to review the devices until I could actually get a pair. However, I do have a lot of familiarity with Signia devices and I have the spec sheets for both types of hearing aids.

The Form Factor

The first thing to note when comparing these two devices is the form factor. Side by side, the Kirkland Signature 8.0 and Signia Pure 7Nx devices look very similar. They both use size 312 batteries. They have a rocker switch for program and volume adjustments, and they both use Receiver in the Canal technology. In fact, the receivers of each of these devices are interchangeable. You can also use custom ear molds on either device, if your hearing loss requires it.

Core Features

The Kirkland Signature 8.0 Hearing Aids obviously look nearly identical to the Signia devices, but how do they compare in terms of features? Let’s take a look at some of the core features with both of these devices. Both have the same amount of Processing Channels with 48. They both also have the same amount of Adjustment Handles inside of the software at 20, which allows the hearing care provider to customize it closely to your hearing loss prescription. And, they both have 6 available programs inside of the devices that you can choose.

Both devices can connect directly with an iPhone, which will allow you to do any kind of streaming from your iPhone directly into your hearing aids. You can also change programs and volume. If you have an Android phone, you can do all of the same things except you won’t be able to stream any audio directly from that phone into your devices. Both have own voice processing technology; they just call them different things. Signia calls it Own Voice Processing, while Kirkland Signature Hearing Aids calls it My Voice.

Eliminated Features

This is where the comparisons start to get a little confusing. We know that the Kirkland Signature 8.0 Hearing Aids are defeatured versions of these Signia devices, but we’re not exactly sure which of these features are eliminated or which of these features are limited. For instance, how good is noise management? Signia devices have speech and noise management with seven adjustable steps. They also have SoundSmoothing and Directional speech enhancement which also gives you three adjustment steps for each one. In the Kirkland Signature 8.0s, it only indicates that noise management is available and that SoundSmoothing has three adjustment steps.

How about feedback cancellation? Signia has really good feedback cancellation, but is this the same feedback cancellation that is in the Kirkland hearing aids? The spec sheet tells us that it has feedback cancellation, but it’s impossible to know if it is as good or if it’s been defeatured from the original.

There is one thing that we see in the Signia spec sheets that we don’t see inside the Kirkland spec sheets – something that we call Input Dynamic Range. Input Dynamic Range is extremely important for hearing better in a background noise situation. It essentially allows more sound into the hearing aid, so the hearing aid has more sound to process. The higher number the better, and Signia’s devices are all the way up to 113. We just have no clue what the Kirkland devices are at.

Other Differences in the Kirkland Signature 8.0 Hearing aids

There are some things that we know are different between these devices. The first one is Tinnitus Features. Tinnitus Features inside of Signia devices include Noise Notched Therapy and Masking Therapy. Kirkland hearing aids, or any Costco hearing aids for that matter, do not have any kind of Tinnitus Features inside of their devices, so it’s something you need to take into consideration if that’s important to you.

The second thing that’s different is the Frequency Bandwidth. Signia Nx devices have a Frequency Bandwidth all the way up to 12,000 Hertz and the Kirkland Signature 8.0 Hearing Aids only have a Bandwidth out to 10,000 Hertz. This may not seem like a big difference, but every little bit matters because high frequency is what gives you clarity to speech. In an ideal situation, you want as high frequency as you can get.

Choosing the Right Hearing Care Provider

Overall, the Costco Kirkland Signature 8.0 Hearing Aids are good hearing aids considering their purchase price of $1600. They are not identical to the Signia 7 Nx line of devices, but they are pretty similar. Just remember, it does not matter how good your hearing aids are unless they have been fit and programmed correctly by your hearing care provider. This is true whether you go to Costco, an independent audiology clinic, or an ENT clinic. If that hearing care provider does not do their job well with extreme amounts of precision, you will not get the full amount of benefit out of those hearing devices. Before you decide to go anywhere, the first thing you should do is make sure that, that hearing care provider knows what they’re doing.

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